IL-7 regulation of cytotoxic lymphocytes: pore-forming protein gene expression, interferon-gamma production, and cytotoxicity of human peripheral blood lymphocytes subsets

Cell Immunol. 1991 Dec;138(2):390-403. doi: 10.1016/0008-8749(91)90163-6.


The effects of IL-7 on the generation of cytolytic human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) were investigated. Induction of T-cell pore-forming protein (PFP) mRNA and cytotoxic potential by IL-7 was both slow and minor compared with that observed in IL-2-cultured T cells. IL-7 and suboptimal doses of IL-2 (10 U/ml) were found to costimulate PFP mRNA expression and cytotoxic potential in T cells. Clearly, however, both IL-7 and IL-2/IL-7 induced the PFP gene expression and cytotoxic potential of CD8+ T cells and not CD4+ T cells. In addition, neither monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to the p55 or p75 IL-2-receptor subunits had any effect upon IL-7 induction of CD8+ T-cell cytotoxicity, indicating that IL-7 induction of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells was IL-2 independent. IL-7 induction of CD3- large granular lymphocyte (LGL) and PB gamma delta T-cell cytotoxicity was also delayed and reduced compared with that effected by IL-2. IL-7 (10 or 1000 U/ml, 72 hr) enhanced the NK and LAK cytotoxic of LGL and PB gamma delta T cells. By contrast IL-7 or IL-2 augmented the redirected cytotoxic potential of PB gamma delta T cells, but not that of LGL, and neither lymphokine had any effect on constitutive PFP mRNA expression in either lymphocyte subset. In addition, IL-7 induction of LGL IFN-gamma production was weak and delayed compared with that effected by IL-2 and neither IL-2 nor IL-7 stimulated IFN-gamma production in PB gamma delta T cells. Therefore, overall the effects of IL-2 and IL-7 on various cytotoxic human PBL were qualitatively similar, but quantitatively and kinetically different.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-7 / pharmacology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Perforin
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / analysis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / physiology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-7
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Perforin
  • Interferon-gamma